"Didn't know it was gonna happen": Terance Mann, Norman Powell were startled by timing of Clippers' blockbuster James Harden trade (Exclusive)

Terance Mann, Norm Powell react to the James Harden trade
Terance Mann, Norm Powell react to the James Harden trade

Shortly after greeting his new teammates, LA Clippers forward Terance Mann and guard Norman Powell appeared at ease.

Not only did they express excitement that the Clippers acquired All-Star guard James Harden and P.J. Tucker from the Philadelphia 76ers. Mann and Powell also appeared relieved the Clippers did not trade them. Instead, the Clippers dealt veterans (Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris Sr.), youth (KJ Martin), and draft picks (one first-round, two seconds, one pick swap).

“I’m shocked, but I’m here. It’s dope,” Mann told Sportskeeda ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Orlando Magic at Crypto.com Arena. “I was just shocked. Everybody has been talking about it. But I didn’t know it was going to happen, right then and there.”

Neither did Powell, who put his phone on “do not disturb mode” in recent days to avoid hearing countless phone calls or texts in case the Clippers acquired Harden at his expense. Powell played “Call of Duty” late Monday night for some solitude. But then his friend sent him a screenshot of ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reporting that the Clippers acquired Harden without dealing both Mann and Powell.

Explore the NBA Draft 2024 with our free NBA Mock Draft Simulator & be the GM of your favorite NBA team.

“It shows the value that they see in us,” Powell told Sportskeeda. “You always want that as a player in a league like this: to find a team, organization, and front office that believes in your ability, believes in what you bring to the table, and believes you can help them win at a high level.”

Since the trade has not been official, LA Clippers coach Tyronn Lue couldn’t comment on the deal or provide clarity on when Harden and Tucker will play in their first game. But Harden and Tucker attended Tuesday’s game and greeted teammates and staff members in the locker room beforehand. Both Harden and Tucker hugged Westbrook after playing together earlier in Houston (2019-20). They also approached Powell and Mann at their locker stalls and embraced them.

“It’ll be really beneficial to our team,” Powell said. “Any time you got another Hall-of-Fame player or superstar on your team, it’s always fun to be able to figure it out and see how it’s all going to work and see how we all come together. I think everybody is locked in at the goal at hand. It’s going to be fun.”

Is it also going to be challenging?

Harden had tumultuous exits in Houston (2020), Brooklyn (2022), and Philadelphia (2023) and has faced criticism for his willingness to adjust his role around other star players. Though he remains one of the league’s best scorers and passers, Harden has not cemented himself as an elite defender.

What will it take for the Clippers and Harden to bring out the best in each other?

“Time and reps,” Mann said. “There are a lot of new positions for a lot of people. You just have to figure it out.”

Instead of waiting until the mid-season trade deadline, the Clippers acquired Harden at the beginning of the 2023-24 regular season partly to give Harden and the group more time to practice and play together.

Harden presumably will assume primary ball-handling duties, allowing Leonard and George to operate more off-the-ball. It remains to be seen if that will result in Westbrook playing as a reserve or at least reduced minutes.

“They know it’s going to take sacrifice to go out there and accomplish the goal,” Powell said. “With a powerhouse team that we have, it can be anybody’s night. As long as we’re playing the right way and everybody is playing to win games, it’s going to be good for us.”

What role will Norman Powell, Terance Mann play with James Harden's arrival?

Powell and Mann pledged to follow that approach after already assuming different roles in the past two seasons. To account for overlapping injuries, Powell and Mann have played as both starters and reserves. To account for rotation and matchup adjustments, Powell and Mann have played at both the guard and wing spot.

“Everywhere I’ve gone with every team that I’ve had every year, it’s all about fitting in and what that role is and executing the role to the best of your ability,” said Powell, who has played in Toronto (2015-21), Portland (2020-22) and the Clippers (2022-24). “I’m such a good plug-and-play player at any position and at any role because I’m focused on that goal. I really don’t care about anything else. I know playing basketball the right way and the things you want to accomplish individually will take care of itself. Giving up yourself for the importance of the team is the most important thing.”

Mann maintained that perspective while hearing his name in various trade rumors before finally learning on Monday night that they wouldn’t materialize.

“It’s a business,” Mann said. “You’re a businessperson. But it’s cool, though. I like being here.”

Quick Links

App download animated image Get the free App now